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Fortezza Vecchia in Livorno

Historical Buildings

The imposing fortified complex with medieval roots that contains the origins of the city

The Medici port of Livorno - one of the most important on the peninsula - is surrounded by an imposing historic fortification that contains the soul and history of the city of Livorno: the Fortezza Vecchia. It was originally a medieval centre around which the urban fabric developed, and an area in which evidence of even more remote eras were found, even dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages, and the Etruscan and Roman periods.

Originally, the fortress consisted of a rectangular tower located at the side of the historic port of the city of Pisa, Porto Pisano. Later, a circular tower was erected not far from the first, presumably commissioned by the Grancontessa Matilde di Canossa and bears her name, the Mastio di Matilde. It's one of the iconic monuments of the city of Livorno.

In subsequent centuries, other elements were added to the two towers, such as a wall that united them called "Quadratura dei Pisani" or Rocca Nuova. However, it only took on the appearance of a real fortification around 1500 with the arrival of the noble Medici family who, having taken possession of the castle of Livorno, began works to redevelop and transform the buildings of the city.

Fortezza Vecchia in Livorno
Fortezza Vecchia in Livorno - Credit: Sailko

The transformations of the fortress also continued in the Lorraine period when it went from being a military barracks for nobles, to a reception site for slaves, bonavoglia and convicts after the abolition of the penal settlements, to a prison, only to be severely damaged during the Second World War. Thanks to restoration works, the Fortezza Vecchia has been restored to its former glory and can be appreciated with a pleasant walk through the streets and canals of the adjacent Venice district. Today, it's an exceptional setting for numerous events ranging from art, to music and cinema.